Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Suborder Heteroptera - True Bugs

waterscorpion - Ranatra Sinea incognita McPherson - Sinea incognita - female Minute Pirate Bug - Calliodis temnostethoides Mirid 4 - Neolygus tiliae Plant Bug?? - Lygus Stictopsallus aspersus  - Stictopsallus aspersus - female Cotton Seed Bug - Oxycarenus hyalinipennis Pennsylvania True Bug for ID - Stephanitis takeyai
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hemiptera (True Bugs, Cicadas, Hoppers, Aphids and Allies)
Suborder Heteroptera (True Bugs)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Formerly treated as a separate order called Hemiptera or Heteroptera; now considered a part of the re-defined order Hemiptera
7 infraorders, with ca. 3850 spp. in ~680 genera of 45 families north of Mexico(1) and >42,000 spp. in almost 6,000 genera of ~90 families worldwide(2); there are >420 spp. of aquatic and semi-aquatic bugs in our area and close to 6,000 spp. worldwide(3)
Genera not yet in the Guide are listed in(4)
Overview of Nearctic families [* –taxa not yet in the guide; classification and stats from(2)]:
Suborder Heteroptera
Infraorder Enicocephalomorpha: ~430 spp. in 65 genera worldwide; families *Aenictopecheidae, Enicocephalidae
Infraorder Dipsocoromorpha: ~340 spp. in ~60 genera worldwide; families Ceratocombidae, *Dipsocoridae, Schizopteridae + 2 tiny Oriental/African families
Infraorder Gerromorpha: semiaquatic; >2,100 spp. in ~160 genera worldwide; 4 superfamilies:
Gerroidea: families Gerridae, Veliidae + one small Indo-Pacific family
Hebroidea: families Hebridae, Macroveliidae + one family with just 2 spp. in so. Africa
Infraorder Nepomorpha: aquatic; >2,300 spp. in 140 genera worldwide; 5 superfamilies:
Naucoroidea: families Naucoridae + 2 minor tropical families (one restricted to the Old World)
Notonectoidea: families Notonectidae, Pleidae + one exotic family
Infraorder Leptopodomorpha: riparian/intertidal (with few exceptions); ~340 spp. in ~60 genera worldwide; 2 superfamilies:
Leptopodoidea: families Leptopodidae and a tiny Old World family
Saldoidea: families Saldidae and one monotypic Palaearctic family
Infraorder Cimicomorpha: terrestrial; ~20,600 spp. in >2,700 genera worldwide; 7 superfamilies (one monotypic superfamily is restricted to se. Mediterranean):
Cimicoidea: families Anthocoridae, Cimicidae, Lyctocoridae, Lasiochilidae, *Polyctenidae, and one small exotic family
Naboidea: families Nabidae and one monotypic African family
Reduvioidea: families Reduviidae and one small tropical family
*Velocipedoidea: families *Curaliidae (a single species, se. US) + one small Oriental family
Infraorder Pentatomomorpha: terrestrial, mostly herbivorous; worldwide, >16,200 spp. in >2,600 genera of 42 families; 6 superfamilies (one superfamily of 2 tiny families is restricted to Australia and so. South America):
Aradoidea: families Aradidae + a small termitophilous family, mostly Neotropical
Coreoidea: families Alydidae, Coreidae, Rhopalidae + 2 small Old World families
Pentatomoidea: families Acanthosomatidae, Cydnidae, Pentatomidae, Plataspididae, Scutelleridae, Thyreocoridae + 10 minor exotic, mostly tropical families
1-65 mm
Mouthparts piercing/sucking
Soft or hard-bodied, often dorsoventrally flattened
Typically two pairs of wings; forewings (hemelytra) are partly leathery, partly membranous (may be variously reduced)
Scutellum prominent
Antennae 4- or 5-segmented
Most have thoracic scent glands used for defense
General identification manuals:(5)(6); keys to aquatic bugs in (7)(8)(9)(10); an easy well-illustrated online key to families in (11)
infraorders Nepomorpha, Gerromorpha, and Leptopodomorpha (the latter with few exceptions) are entirely composed of aquatic, semiaquatic, or shore bugs; the remaining groups are entirely terrestrial and occupy a wide variety of habitats
most species feed on plant juices, many are predators, some are mixed feeders, a few are parasites (blood-sucking)
Some are considered agricultural or household pests; info on economically important spp. in (12)
See Also
Beetles (Coleoptera)
Cicadas, hoppers, and allies (Auchenorryncha)
How to tell a bug from a beetle: [adapted from Jim McClarin's comment]
If antenna ut have fewer than six segments (4-5), then it's a bug. Beetle antennae (with very few exceptions) have at least 8, usually 11 (antennomeres).
Beetles have pinching jaws (mandibles); bugs, piercing, sucking mouthparts usually folded back against the underside.
However, in some bugs (Scutelleridae, Thyreocoridae) the enlarged scutellum covers nearly the entire wing.
Print References
Internet References
Die Wanzen Europas (The true bugs of Europe) by A. Grau & D. Koehler --all the holarctic families at a glance
Danish bugs(16)
European Bugs --large photo gallery with reliable IDs
Works Cited
1.Catalog of the Heteroptera, or True Bugs of Canada and the Continental United States
Thomas J. Henry, Richard C. Froeschner. 1988. Brill Academic Publishers.
2.Biodiversity of the Heteroptera
Henry T.J. 2009. In: Foottit R.G., Adler P.H., eds. Insect biodiversity: Science and society. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell: 223-263.
3.Global diversity of true bugs (Heteroptera; Insecta) in freshwater
Polhemus J.T., Polhemus D.A. 2008. Freshwater Animal Diversity Assessment. Developments in Hydrobiology 198: 379-391.
4.Wanzenverzeichnis: Heteroptera Wish List [genera]
5.Heteroptera of Eastern North America
W.S. Blatchley. 1926. The Nature Publishing Company.
6.How to Know the True Bugs
Slater, James A., and Baranowski, Richard M. 1978. Wm. C. Brown Company.
7.Identification manual for the aquatic and semi-aquatic Heteroptera of Florida
Epler J.H. 2006. FL Dept. Env. Prot., Tallahassee, FL. 186 pp.
8.Bright E. (2002-2011) Aquatic Insects of Michigan
9.Clifford H.F. (1991) Aquatic invertebrates of Alberta
10.The aquatic and semi-aquatic Hemiptera of Virginia
Bobb M.L. 1974. Insects of Virginia 7, iv+195 pp.
11.Choate P.M. (YYYY) Identification key to the principal families of Florida Heteroptera
12.Heteroptera of economic importance
Schaefer C.W., Panizzi A.R. (eds). 2000. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 828 pp.
13.Encyclopedia of South American aquatic insects: Hemiptera-Heteroptera: illustrated keys to known families, genera, and species
Heckman C.W. 2011. Springer. ix+679 pp.
14.Liste des punaises du Québec et des régions adjacentes (Hemiptera: Heteroptera)
Roch J.-F. 2014. Entomofaune du Québec inc. 40 pp.
15.Pilon et al. (1988-2015) Entomofaune du Québec
16.Skipper L. (2003-2012) Danmarks Blomstertæger